Swagger Challenge: Write a Zeno

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Last month we began posing monthly challenges for our writing group, named The Sunday Night Swaggers. The plan is for a different one of us to pose a challenge each month, and for all of us to share our poems at the first Poetry Friday of the month. This month Margaret Simon (Reflections on the Teche) posed our second challenge: Write a Zeno.

A quick intro to Zenos: J. Patrick Lewis created the form. In an interview with Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today’s Little Ditty  he explained, ” The zeno was inspired by the “hailstone  sequence” in mathematics. I define a zeno as a 10-line poem with 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1 syllables that rhyme abcdefdghd.” (If you’d like to find out more about the “hailstone sequence”, click here. It’s actually kind of cool!)

I’ve written Zenos before, and was looking forward to writing some more. But this time around I was stymied. Flummoxed. Confounded. I wrote page after page after page. Lists of rhyming words. False starts. Half starts. I wrote about Halloween vampires, black crows, crimson maple trees, snowy egret carnage, the marsh, mornings, my cat, and more. Yikes! Nothing fell into place. The tyranny of a 1-syllable rhyme has been grossly underrated! 

It’s been one of those weeks…

Some mornings, words fall into line
gather neatly
on the
page
some days they fight,
wrangle,
rage
twist and kick, then
storm off-
stage

© Molly Hogan, 2019

The Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by Cheriee at Library Matters. She’s sharing an interview with Canadian poet Robert Heidbreder and some wonderful examples of his poems. If you’re interested in checking out some other Zenos, you can find my fellow Swaggers’ Zenos at their blogs.

Margaret Simon (Reflections on the Teche)
Heidi Mordhorst (My Juicy Universe)
Linda Mitchell (A Word Edgewise)
Catherine Flynn (Reading to the Core)

A Zeno

unnamedLike so many others, thanks to Margaret Simon‘s introduction and wonderful mentor poems, I jumped right on the Zeno train. The form was created by J. Patrick Lewis and consists of 8 lines with a syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1, with the one syllable lines rhyming. I’ve been playing around with it a lot in my notebook lately.

Last weekend as the sun rose, I spotted this lovely tree, brilliant in the midst of the frost-covered cemetery. It seemed a perfect fit for a Zeno. I’m still toying around with endings, but for now I’m going with this version.

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O’er frosted tombstones, amber flare
surges upward
glowing
bright
final flash of
golden
light
doused too soon by
winter’s
night

M. Hogan ©2018

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the warmly welcoming Brenda Davis Harsham at her lovely blog, Friendly Fairy Tales. Thanks, Brenda!